News from April 11, 2001

How times have changed.

The Hollywood Reporter announces that “O,” Tim Blake Nelson’s modern day retelling of William Shakespeare’s Othello, has been sold by Miramax to Lions Gate, who is planning a 1500 screen release in August. The film has been sitting on the shelf for two years now (not all that odd an incident for Miramax), due to the changed storyline, which now climaxes with a school shooting where several students are killed.

I remember the days when Miramax courted controversy, daring to release the homosexual themed “Priest” on a Good Friday, and creating a new company just to distribute “Kids.” And this was after Miramax was bought by Disney. Now, for the second time in two years, the Weinsteins have sold out a highly touted film to their Canadian based rivals.

The reasons are simple. Miramax fears a backlash from concerned citizens who have been told by politicians that entertainment like “O” will cause their children to behave badly. Never mind that the story of Othello has been read in high schools for many years. Never mind there has never been a study conducted which has shown conclusive proof that violent movies are the sole or even a major factor in why some of our younger Americans have acted out in such brazen fashion in our schools. Never mind that this new movie pretty much follows the classic text which was created hundreds of years ago. How many other schools in nations around the world teach the writings of Shakespeare, and how many of them have had these kinds of problemsr

Bravo to Lions Gate to not kowtowing to whims of self serving politicos who only care about making and maintaining a name for themselves.

Independent film legend Roger Corman knows when to take advantage of a good opportunity.

In the late 1970s, Corman paid $500,000 for a old lumber mill in Venice, California, on which he built studio space for his then-new Concorde Films. After shooting over 100 films and 22 episodes of the Sci-Fi Channel show “Black Scorpion” on the lot, Corman sold the land to a developer for $4.3M in February. The buildings would be demolished and replaced with commercial space and apartments. Corman then struck a deal with the developers… allow him to blow up the buildings and film the destruction, which will be the main set piece for his new film. “Slaughter Studios,” which is scheduled for release later this summer, centers around a character who hates horror films and plots to destroy one studio who specializes in these types of films.

Bravo, Mr. Corman.

A few months ago, I wrote about the disgusting trend of young actresses being elevated to the ranks of producer.

Hollywood’s gone and done it again.

The latest young lass to follow in the hallowed footsteps of Alicia Silverstone, Reese Witherspoon and Christina Ricci is “Josie and the Pussycats” star Rachael Leigh Cook, whose Ben’s Sister production company has produced two films already this year and is about to start a third. Miramax recently picked up “Tangled,” in which Cook costars with Shawn Hatosy in the story of a police investigation into a beating of a young man (not to be confused with the German short directed by Holger Heiland). Cook just wrapped production on “29 Palms,” the ensemble piece about a group of people in the Palm Springs desert. And now, she will costar and executive produce Max Hoffman’s debut film “Invisible Girl,” a comedy/love story about a young woman who puts herself in danger to help capture a serial killer.

Now, I would make some kind of snide remark about the next in line being that annoying eight year old Pepsi girl Hallie Kate Eisenberg, but she’s already got a development deal for a screenplay she’s writing.

Unlike the recent April Fool’s Day joke perpetrated by the merry pranksters at Corona Coming Attractions about Marlon Brando appearing in “Pearl Harbor,” the legendary actor has apparently signed on for a small role in “Scary Movie 2.” Bob Weinstein announced in a statement “In an unprecedented move, Dimension Films has landed movie icon Marlon Brando in a wild, comedic turn” as a priest who performs a supernatural exorcism. Reports from Daily Variety’s Dish column state Brando will pocket a million dollars for the extended cameo. “Scary Movie 2” is scheduled to open on July 4.